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Common Archiving Terms → Jul 23rd 2008

Archiving is such an archaic word which conjures up images of old, dark, dusty rooms in the basements of churches or museums which no-one really wants to go into.
Wikipedia's entry about archiving says "An archive refers to a collection of historical records, and also refers to the location in which these records are kept."

We can use that as a basis for our mini-glossary of common terms used when archiving records. We will look at data handling from both the paper side and the digital side to help us become familiar with records management on the whole.

Artifacts

Unwelcome features of an image, like speckles or digital noise, usually introduced by some scanner hardware limitation, or use of image processing techniques.

Auto Document Feeder (ADF)

A motorized addition to scanners which feeds pages into a scanner when required, enabling unattended scanning.

CCD

Charge-coupled device, the electronic component (sensor) most commonly used in scanners to capture light reflected from a document, which is then processed into digital information, sent to your PC, and displayed as the scanned image.

Channel

One component of a colour model for a digital color image (RGB uses red, green and blue for example). Channels are handy for adjusting images. You can manipulate channels independently, for example increasing the brightness of the red channel to add more red to the image.

Contrast

The range between the darkest and lightest parts of an image. Part of the trick of improving scan quality is increasing contrast without losing detail in the brightest and darkest parts of the image.

Descreening

An option included in many scanner drivers that can help remove unpleasant dot patterns from newsprint or magazine images.

DPI

Dots per inch. See resolution

Filters

Tools that allow you to apply effects to your images. These range from conventional options such as Sharpen, which are intended to improve the quality of an image, to more artistic special effects such as Emboss or Mosaic.

Gamma

The contrast around the midtone of an image. Adjust the gamma and you can alter the brightness of an image without drastically affecting shadows or highlights.

Greyscale

An image consisting of shades of grey, with no color.

Halftone

A printing technique which uses patterns of dots to create the illusion of a continuous tone image.

Highlights

The lightest parts of an image.

Life-cycle

All phases in the life of an object or file. An object life-cycle is determined by assigning information such as when it is created, how it is identified, how it is classified, when it is archived, how long it is preserved, and when it should be destroyed.

Metadata

Data that describes data. Metadata is used to facilitate the understanding, use and management of data. The metadata required for effective data management varies with the type of data and context of use. Metadata is generally embedded into the data it is describing.

Midtones

The area of an image between the highlights and the shadows.

Mime

A file is identified based on the MIME encoding system. The MIME type has become the de facto standard for identifying content on the Internet. For example, in order to identify the type of attachment sent in an e-mail message, its MIME type is embedded in the message header.

Moire

The unpleasant dot pattern that can sometimes occur if you scan a magazine picture and didn't use the De-screening option.

OCR

Optical Character Recognition is the process of analyzing the shapes on a scanned image, recognizing individual characters, and eventually converting them to editable text.

Pixel

Short for 'picture element', a pixel is the smallest dot that is used to make up an image.

Pixels per inch (PPI)

Pixels per inch (PPI) or pixel density is a measurement of the resolution of a computer display, related to the size of the display in inches and the total number of pixels in the horizontal and vertical directions. This measurement is often referred to as dots per inch, though that measurement more accurately refers to the resolution of a computer printer.

Preview

A low quality, but fast scan, useful to get a quick idea of how a scanned image is going to look. With TWAIN software and many scanners, this is part of the set-up process to allow you to select a specific portion of a document.

Resolution

A measurement of the quality of an image, usually expressed in terms of the number of dots per inch (dpi) both horizontally and vertically.

Retention

A comprehensive instruction covering the disposition of records to assure that they are retained for as long as necessary based on their administrative, fiscal, legal, and historic value.

Shadows

The darkest parts of an image.

TWAIN

Nothing to do with turgid, radio-friendly country rock music! TWAIN (aka Technology Without An Interesting Name!)is the standard means by which a PC can send commands to and retrieve data from an external device, most commonly a scanner or digital camera. Most advanced graphics programs support TWAIN, and so will work with your scanner immediately.

WORM

Write Once, Read Many. Meaning something is created on a medium such as a tape, or a roll of film, but is accessed to read/view repeatedly.


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The phrase "Carbon Footprint" sums up the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gasses produced. A carbon footprint includes many things but for measuring convenience all factors are converted to units of carbon dioxide. (co2)

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